Breast Augmentation Surgeon in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale & Gilbert, AZ

7 Common Breast Implant Problems and What To Do About Them

Breast augmentation is the most popular cosmetic surgery procedure in the United States. Every year, more than 300,000 women receive this treatment in order to improve the size and shape of drooping or sagging breasts. Many patients who undergo breast augmentation in Phoenix, Gilbert, Mesa, or anywhere for that matter, experience feelings of satisfaction and improved self-confidence.

While surgeons may use autologous (donor) tissue to perform an augmentation, the majority of these procedures are completed using breast implants. Many implant brands available in the market are reliable and have a shelf life of 10-20 years. Still, it is not uncommon for women to experience implant-related complications.

This article explores the most common implant challenges and what you can do about them.


1. Capsular Contracture

Capsular contracture is the formation of scar tissue around the breast implant. Naturally, the body reacts to any foreign body (including a breast implant) by forming scar tissue (capsule) around it. This is actually a good thing because the capsule helps prevent slippage and keep the implant in place. In some cases, though, this capsule becomes so unusually hard that it begins to contract around the implant. Patients can then experience side aesthetic disfiguration of the breast, or pain in extreme cases. The degree of contracture is usually graded according to an existing classification system (Baker’s classification) depending on its extent.

Capsular contracture is one of the most common implant side effects. Approximately 2.1% of women who receive a breast augmentation procedure have a capsular contracture. While there is no consensus over why this happens, some experts argue that a subclinical bacterial infection is a culprit. Others think that silicone leakage may contribute to the contracture.

Solution: Revision breast surgery is typically required to address this problem.

2. Deflation & Rupture

Implant rupture or deflation is far more common than any other breast implant complication. About 21% to 32% of silicone gel implants are removed within 10 years, usually due to rupture. This is complicated by the fact that the rupture of silicone implants is not always that easy to detect. In some cases, the implant will leak without showing any signs of deflation. It’s important for patients who receive this type of implant to undergo regular imaging tests (MRI or Xray) to check their status. On the other hand, saline implant leaks tend to be very easy to detect because there is deflation.

Solution: Repair of saline implant leakage is equally straightforward. Your surgeon will simply remove the old implant and insert a new one of the same size. The process to correct silicone implant rupture is a sticky process. The surgeon will focus on getting rid of all the silicone – sometimes together with the capsule. Only after this process is completed can a new implant be put in place

3. Bottoming Out

Breast implants may ‘bottom out’ when the implant loses internal support. This may be caused by weak underlying muscle or skin that is unable to hold the implant property in place. Women who experience this side effect notice that the implant is ‘sinking’ down to the lower area of the breast. This may manifest as a breast that is bulging downward, nipples that point upwards, or increased distance between the breast fold and the nipple.

The weakness that results in ‘bottoming out’ of the implant can be caused by a number of factors.

    • Dramatic weight loss
    • Pregnancy or nursing
    • Natural aging
    • Smoking
    • Physician error during the original augmentation procedure

Solution: If your implant has bottomed out, revision surgery is the best solution to remedy the situation. The breast surgeon will examine the extent of the ‘droop’ and create an appropriate treatment plan to suit your needs. They may sew the capsule under the breast to push the implant higher up, or perform a breast lift procedure altogether.

4. Wrinkling & folding

Implant wrinkling or folding – when visible to the naked eye – can ruin your augmented breast. This kind of complication may be caused by insufficient natural breast tissue or subglandular implant placement. Insufficient filling of saline implants or the use of textured breast implants may also cause this problem.

Solution: wrinkling or folding of a saline implant can be remedied by removing and replacing it with a silicone-gel filled implant. If the problem originates from submuscular or subglandular placement, a revision breast procedure can correct this.

5. Infection

This is uncommon, but some women do catch a severe infection after a few weeks of breast augmentation surgery. Why so? Just like any other foreign object, implants tend to attract bacteria. Patients tend to experience symptoms such as fever, or a sensation of heat radiating from the implant.

Solution: for women who experience this kind of implant complication, bacteria-fighting antibiotics are the first line of defense. Should these fail to work, the implant will have to be removed. Your surgeon can always add a new replacement implant once you are fully recovered from the infection

6. Cancer

Breast implants may be linked to ALCL (Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma). This is according to recent findings by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). ALCL is a very rare form of cancer that is diagnosed to women in the United States each year. It can show up in the breasts, or elsewhere in the body. There are indications that ALCL was diagnosed in some women after they sought medical attention due to asymmetry, pain, swelling, or hardening of the breast area around the implant. According to the FDA, this finding is particularly associated with the Allergan Biocell textured breast implants. The frequency of ALCL is ever changing and becoming more common. At one point the frequency was 1:500,000 but the current numbers are closer to 1:3,000 to 1:30,000. However, as for peace of mind, they are only associated with textured breast implants(which Dr. LaBarbera does not use)

Solution: if you worried about getting sick as a result of your textured implant, consult your plastic surgeon. Women who are already experiencing discomfort or having anxiety as a result of this development may choose to have their implant removed altogether.

7. Nipple sensation changes

Through breast augmentation through a periareolar incision(incision along the lower half of the areola – some of these women lost nipple sensation within 3 years of the procedure because there are ducts and nerves in this area. That’s according to research by the Federal Institute of Medicine. Smoking can also increase the risk of this happening.

Solution: If you are experiencing loss of sensation following breast augmentation surgery, get in touch with your plastic surgeon.